US Urges Pakistanis to Keep Musharraf

Better the devil you know...

The Bush administration is pressing the opposition leaders who defeated Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to allow the former general to retain his position, a move that Western diplomats and U.S. officials say could trigger the very turmoil the United States seeks to avoid. .

U.S. officials, from President Bush on down, said this week that they think Musharraf, a longtime U.S. ally, should continue to play a role, despite his party's rout in parliamentary elections Monday and his unpopularity in the volatile, nuclear-armed nation.

The U.S. is urging the Pakistani political leaders who won the elections to form a new government quickly and not press to reinstate the judges whom Musharraf ousted last year, Western diplomats and U.S. officials said Wednesday. If reinstated, the jurists likely would try to remove Musharraf from office.

Bush's policy of hanging on to Musharraf has caused friction between the White House and the State Department , with some career diplomats and other specialists arguing that the administration is trying to buck the political tides in Pakistan , U.S. officials said.
The Bush Administration has some compelling reasons to urge this course of action. And the State Department has equally important reasons to argue that we should throw him to the wolves.

That is the nature of Pakistan and why it is such a tough nut to crack. There just aren't any good choices for American policy when it comes to Musharraf. As much as you can argue that Musharraf has been less than a stellar ally in the war against the extremists and an anti-democratic tyrant to boot, the fact is he is likely to be a damn sight better than the alternative.

The fact is Musharraf held the country together during an enormously turbulent time and tried to accomodate Washington whenever he felt he could do so politically - which wasn't as often as we would have liked but more often than was probably good for his personal standing with the Pakistani people.

His unpopularity derives from his high handed dismissal of the Supreme Court and declaration of martial law in order to have his re-election stand. Both of the largest parties in the winning coalition - the PPP and PML suffered massive arrests and detentions under the state of emergency and are unlikely to forgive and forget.

But they do not have the votes to impeach him. And the Supreme Court, if reinstated, might very well indict Musharraf or, more likely, simply invalidate his re-election as president.

The problem is that Musharraf's replacement may not be willing to fight the exremists in the Northwest Frontier Provinces and seal Pakistan's border against incursions into Afghanistan by the Taliban. It is even possible that a new president would seek to undermine the Afghan government and seek to reinstall the Taliban. Although unlikely, an unfriendly Pakistan could make huge trouble for NATO and the US on the border.

There are some indications that the new coalition will tred softly at first. This is wise given the circumstances of the last year and may lead to a more stable political environment.
Better the devil you know...

The Bush administration is pressing the opposition leaders who defeated Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to allow the former general to retain his position, a move that Western diplomats and U.S. officials say could trigger the very turmoil the United States seeks to avoid. .

U.S. officials, from President Bush on down, said this week that they think Musharraf, a longtime U.S. ally, should continue to play a role, despite his party's rout in parliamentary elections Monday and his unpopularity in the volatile, nuclear-armed nation.

The U.S. is urging the Pakistani political leaders who won the elections to form a new government quickly and not press to reinstate the judges whom Musharraf ousted last year, Western diplomats and U.S. officials said Wednesday. If reinstated, the jurists likely would try to remove Musharraf from office.

Bush's policy of hanging on to Musharraf has caused friction between the White House and the State Department , with some career diplomats and other specialists arguing that the administration is trying to buck the political tides in Pakistan , U.S. officials said.
The Bush Administration has some compelling reasons to urge this course of action. And the State Department has equally important reasons to argue that we should throw him to the wolves.

That is the nature of Pakistan and why it is such a tough nut to crack. There just aren't any good choices for American policy when it comes to Musharraf. As much as you can argue that Musharraf has been less than a stellar ally in the war against the extremists and an anti-democratic tyrant to boot, the fact is he is likely to be a damn sight better than the alternative.

The fact is Musharraf held the country together during an enormously turbulent time and tried to accomodate Washington whenever he felt he could do so politically - which wasn't as often as we would have liked but more often than was probably good for his personal standing with the Pakistani people.

His unpopularity derives from his high handed dismissal of the Supreme Court and declaration of martial law in order to have his re-election stand. Both of the largest parties in the winning coalition - the PPP and PML suffered massive arrests and detentions under the state of emergency and are unlikely to forgive and forget.

But they do not have the votes to impeach him. And the Supreme Court, if reinstated, might very well indict Musharraf or, more likely, simply invalidate his re-election as president.

The problem is that Musharraf's replacement may not be willing to fight the exremists in the Northwest Frontier Provinces and seal Pakistan's border against incursions into Afghanistan by the Taliban. It is even possible that a new president would seek to undermine the Afghan government and seek to reinstall the Taliban. Although unlikely, an unfriendly Pakistan could make huge trouble for NATO and the US on the border.

There are some indications that the new coalition will tred softly at first. This is wise given the circumstances of the last year and may lead to a more stable political environment.